Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Article in the New York Times -- In a Reversal, U.S. Says Medicare Won’t Cover Stents for Neck Arteries, by Barnaby J. Feder. Here's an excerpt:
Responding to criticism from surgeons, the government has dropped its previously announced plans to expand Medicare coverage for the use of stents to prop open neck arteries to prevent strokes.
Instead, Medicare will stick with definitions that restrict eligibility for such stents to fewer than 10 percent of the 150,000 to 200,000 Americans who annually undergo surgery to clear blockages that restrict blood flow to the brain and raise stroke risks.
That is a far more conservative stance on stenting than has been taken by the Food and Drug Administration, which determines when a device is safe and effective enough to be sold commercially. And it is likely to slow the expansion of coverage among private insurers.
The decision, which Medicare regulators published online on Monday night, was an unexpected reversal for stent makers and many doctors who have promoted stenting as a less invasive alternative to neck surgery.